by Skeeter Davis
Fans—and even more so foes—of Nashville radio-TV personality Ralph Emery will be interested in this autobiography by one of his ex-wives, who has hardly a decent word to say about him. But Davis, once a minor star in country music, has also turned out a poignant autobiography that stands on its own.
Especially touching is Davis’s account of her friendship with Betty Jack Davis, her high school friend and first professional singing partner, who died in an auto crash in 1953, shortly after the duo hit the country music charts. Skeeter also writes movingly of her parents, her seven siblings and personalities like Chet Atkins, Minnie Pearl, June Carter and her sometime touring partner, Elvis Presley.
She describes her four-year marriage to Emery, her second husband, as unrelenting torment. She accuses him of being indifferent, unfaithful, wildly jealous, selfish and hurtful. Following their divorce in 1964, she writes, he continued to harass her. She also claims that Emery doesn’t really like country music and that he derides its stars as “sequins and snuff queens.”
(While there is a vindictive tone toward Emery—who in his own book Memories accused Davis of marrying him mainly to further her career—she applauds his sincere interest in his children from previous marriages.)
Davis, who has survived breast cancer and turned into a globe-trotting evangelical proselytizer, remains likable. If her story breaks the heart more often than it warms it, her willingness to acknowledge her own mistakes humanizes her often grim tale of the vagaries of human strength and weakness. (Birch Lane, $19.95)